About Saloni Panda Short & crisp Introduction, How you got into cooking what was your motivation?
I am final year BBA student pursuing Finance and Digital Marketing. I am an Odissi dancer and Food blogger by passion. Cooking has always been my favourite hobby. I started cooking at the age of 12 and at the age of 19 I decided to showcase my cooking on a Digital platform. That is when I started my page ‘Saloni’s Kitchen’ on Instagram. I have always loved experimenting with food. Food, being the root of our survival I believe that being able to cook and share with your loved ones is the most beautiful feeling. My main motivation was my passion for cooking and my determination to establish my page. I initially started with posting home cooked meals. My page now consists of restaurant food, street food and homemade food.
When you started out as an influencer, which area is your focus?
One thing that is very important when you start out as an influencer is your content. Good content gets more reach and attracts more audience. It is important to identify what your audience likes and what they don’t and create your content accordingly When I started posting plating pictures, I noticed that my audience really liked that. I started posting more of that in order to get more audience. This helped me gain more visibility. I collaborated with brands and also got many invites from restaurant
Content is the king. Good and unique content always helps in the long run.
For a new person starting out, how much should be initial Investment and work behind starting out like you did?
I think the major investment that is needed to start out is Time. You need to dedicate good amount of time to create your content. When I started, I used to spend considerable time in looking up new recipes;cooking and making it look presentable. Initially, I did not concentrate on the photography aspect, I used to just cook and post. I realised later that good photography is very important to attract more audience. That is when I changed my style of posting food pictures.It is also very important to stay dedicated and consistent. You need to post good content regularly in order to keep your audience engaged. Another important aspect thing is to invest time to plan out your social media strategy. You need to plan your content – What will be appealing to people? What are the things that you are going to post? When will you post? How often will you post?
Who helped you out or who you consider being your mentor? How did you approach with your proposal?
My parents have always supported me in everything that I have wanted to do. I have always been someone who loves to try new things and my parents have never stopped me to do what I want to. They have always guided me and supported me.
When I told them I wanted to start my page, they were delighted! They gave me a few ideas about what I should post and how I can experiment with food.
My younger brother is the one who keeps me motivated to cook. Each time I go home from my hostel, my brother tells me what he wants to eat and encourages me to cook. I feel happy when I cook for him and it’s a delight to see him licking his fingers after eating the food I cook. He is the one person who actually craves for my food and I can say that he is the biggest fan of Saloni’s Kitchen!
How did you overcome setbacks and if you want to share any setbacks you faced?
A major setback that I faced when I started my page was that, I was not able to understand what I should post and what will get me more audience. I realised that I had not done proper research. It is important to know your audience in order to make your mark and be a successful influencer with a good engagement rate. Once I realised this, I started doing my research and also looking at other food blogger profiles on Instagram. This helped me understand the trend and I realised how I should post my content and gain the audience.
What are the innovations you are taking on in Indian cuisine and how you research, develop new recipes, or find out new eateries?
I love experimenting with food. I modify a lot of my existing recipes and cook. I take inspiration from many sources. I watch a lot of recipes on YouTube and keep trying all of them. My favourite channel is “Get curried” by Chef Varun Inamdar on YouTube and my favourite TV show is “My Yellow Table”by Chef Kunal Kapoor. I also watch a lot of other food shows on ‘NDTV Good times’ like “Highway on my Plate”, “Bachelor’s Kitchen”, “Chakhle India” and a lot more. All of this helps me in finding out about the different food cultures all over India and developing recipes around them. I plan to do a lot of more innovations in Indian cuisine in the future.
When it comes to new eateries, I find them from Zomato and also from other bloggers. There are many bloggers who are the first ones to go to any new place and that is how is get to know about these places.
What is the future of Indian cuisine or Indian culinary trend according to you?
Indian cuisine is all about the uniqueness and the variety, which is why it is so popular across the world. The Indian cuisine is very diverse and rich. When I started going to many places across Pune and tried different types of fusion food, I noticed that even though the presentation and the concept was different, it had the typical Indian flavour. I feel we can never lose that Indian touch. The Indian cuisine has evolved over the years and is growing rapidly all over the world. It is essential to keep this growth alive and never lose touch with our rich Indian flavours.
How do you schedule your blog, Instagram activities?
I dedicate an hour a day regularly to post my content on Instagram and engage with my audience in the form of comments and direct messages. I also engage on my other fellow blogger’s posts. It is important to dedicate at least some amount of time per day regularly in order to keep your account updated.
How strong you believed you can make a mark in Food blogging and how you turned yourself to a brand?
Honestly, when I started off I did not know I would make this mark in Food Blogging. It took a year to establish the audience that I have now. It might seem easy to start a page and gain followers but it takes a lot of effort to establish your brand and build an organic audience. I turned myself into a brand by posting good content and catering to what my audience wanted. There is a simple three C rule that I follow that helped me –
What is your favourite cooking style ( south, north… dessert, veg… ) in Indian cuisine and why ?
I love cooking non-vegetarian food. Being an Odia girl, Non-veg has always been my favourite. My father is an expert when it comes to cooking non-veg dishes and that is where I learnt from. When I was younger, I used to watch him cook and I found it really fascinating. Indian cuisine is my all time favourite.
I also love baking and making Indian sweets. My mother keeps making Odia sweet dishes like ‘Chena Poda, Khaja, Arisa Pitha, Kakara’ and a lot more. That is how I developed an interest in making Indian sweet dishes.
I like to keep my cooking simple, yet appealing.
Name 5 influencer profile according to you is best and you look up to?
There are many influencer profiles that I look up to. Every influencer is unique in its own way. I have learnt something or the other from each Instagrammer. It is difficult to choose a best out of the many talented bloggers out there. By influencers here, I am not only referring to Food bloggers but also a number of other lifestyle and travel bloggers.
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